Editor’s note: Last week, we brought you the story of Aaron and Jamie Ivey of Austin, Texas. They’ve been trying to adopt two children from Haiti for more than two years. Story, 2, came home to them in October. Amos, 4, is still in Haiti. His paperwork was delayed, so he was in Cazale, northwest of Port-au-Prince, when the earthquake struck last Tuesday. Amos lives at the Real Hope for Haiti rescue center while he waits to go home to his new family. Below is a look at how Real Hope for Haiti has been impacted by the deadly quake.
By Beth Anne Marengo, CNN
As the days pass, the pleas get more frantic – the needs more shocking.
Their requests come in fits and starts, in sporadic phone calls and blog posts. First, Casey Zachary’s family asked for prayers. Now they’re desperate for formula, fearful of a food shortage, and greatly in need of diesel fuel for their generator, medical supplies for their clinic – and a way to get cash to try to pay for it all.
Last night, Casey’s sister Lori, a registered nurse, e-mailed his wife, a medical resident, and asked her for advice on how to treat rotting flesh and amputate limbs with household tools.
Casey Zachary’s parents, Davis and Gretchen, started Real Hope for Haiti in 1999 when they began taking ill, injured and neglected children into their home. Today, Davis and his daughters Lori and Licia, along with their Haitian husbands, operate a clinic and rescue center for malnourished children and orphans in Cazale, about 20 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince. Although they’ve been hard hit by the quake, they are determined to continue to provide care and comfort for the people of Haiti.
“I feel I must stay as long as I can for these beautiful people I love so dearly,” Licia Zachary Beton said via email.
In ordinary times, Casey says the clinic sees 250-300 patients a day. In the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti last Tuesday, they are overwhelmed.
"My sister is a nurse, but since we’re one of the only sources of medical care in the area," Casey explains, "she often performs the duties of a doctor. But they never treat injuries this serious – and they’re not equipped to handle them," he said by telephone from Seattle, where he lives while his wife completes her residency and he finishes seminarian studies.
The RHFH team is also scrambling to care for the 70 or so children who live at the rescue center. They all survived, but many are already sick or orphaned, making them even more vulnerable to the effects of the earthquake.
The building that houses the rescue center was badly damaged in the quake and each aftershock inflicts new wounds, making their headquarters ever more fragile. The Zachary’s and all the children have been living and sleeping outside, but Licia Beton says they can’t carry on that way much longer. She’s located a sturdy, undamaged building nearby, and according to her brother, is in the process of trying to move all the children to this safer location.
They are also hoping to evacuate some of the children who have relatives or adoptive parents in the U.S. or other countries, but Casey says exactly how or when they’ll be able to do that is unclear. He hopes sometime this week.
The uncertainty, the suffering, the unimaginable amount of work is taking its toll.
“They are physically, mentally, and emotionally maxed out,” says Casey Zachary. “My father has been there 16 years, through many hurricanes, floods, political coups, and none of it has remotely prepared him for what he has seen.”
What he’s seen has been horrific. Davis Zachary has told his son stories of bodies bouncing out of dump trucks on the way to mass graves, corpses being piled in what used to be a dump in Sous Paint, people crushed beneath the rubble of collapsed building, others suffering from wounds that look like something from a gory movie.
Despite the death and destruction surrounding them, the Zachary’s say they are blessed. Their immediate family is safe. They’re grateful for the donations pouring in from abroad and for the support they continue to get from their dedicated staff of 75 Haitian employees, many of whom came to work the night the quake hit after losing their own homes and families. They know their burden is light, their pain, bearable, compared to the plight of so many other people in Haiti.
What sustains the Zacharys more than anything is their faith. “We are very much depending on strength and wisdom from God,” Casey says. “The only decision to make is to take the next step, take the next breath, serve the next person.”
With so many immediate needs – hungry babies, hurting patients, dwindling supplies – it’s hard to think beyond that next step or breath.
“Haiti was a humanitarian crisis before the earthquake, and I don’t know there is a word in the dictionary for it now,” says Casey. “Haiti is an hour and a half flight from Miami, but a universe away. Even I, who grew up and lived there, can’t understand what a Haitian endures on a normal day – let alone now.”
“It saddens me that it took this tragedy to turn the eyes of the world to Haiti,” says Casey. “But I pray those eyes are not soon diverted.”
Learn more about the many organizations
providing emergency aid and relief to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti and find ways you can get involved by visiting Impact Your World. Impact Your World.